Glory (1990)

Their innocence. Their heritage. Their lives.

Robert Gould Shaw leads the US Civil War's first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices of both his own Union army and the Confederates.

And there wouldn't be nothing but rebs dyin if they'd let the fifty-fourth in it.
Based around the actual letters sent by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw to his parents, this Civil War picture tells the story of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, the first black regiment to fight under the American flag. Led by their white leader (Shaw), they must overcome bigotry, in fighting and the war itself, and this just to feel like men of honour.
The most striking thing about Glory is that it is never over sentimental. With the subject to hand it would have been easy for the makers to over egg the pudding and rely solely on a racialist stance purely for impact. What we do get is actually a candidate for one of the most politically correct war films to have ever been made. It's harsh and at times heart tugging, that in fact is certainly true, but the narrative never veers from the core essence of men wanting to be just that - men!
Director Edward Zwick has many critics in the industry, but here his attention to detail should be roundly applauded. He perfectly captures the period whilst molding a tightly plotted piece of work. Zwick also needs a pat on the back for hiring cinematographer Freddie Francis (Academy Award Winner), who weaves his magic to bring the brutality of the surroundings vividly to life. While James Horner provides a wonderful swirling emotive score (fans of his work on Braveheart should definitely check out this earlier composition). Though the film is essentially a multi ensemble piece, there are tremendous performances from the principal actors. Matthew Broderick (Shaw), Denzel Washington (Academy Award Winner Best Supporting Actor) (Trip), Morgan Freeman (John Rawlins) and Andre Braugher (Searles).
We follow this regiment from their initial formation, here they are ill equipped and never taken seriously, it appears that this group of men are not even worthy of being canon fodder. But through sheer determination - and led by the empathetically driven Shaw, the 54th Regiment prove themselves to be a worthy fighting force. This ultimately leads to their place in American history with the culmination of events at South Carolina's Fort Wagner (a stunning emotive finale that booms out of the screen).
Heroic and tragic is the tale of Glory, but the chief point of enlightenment through historical facts, and the message of heroics having no colour, makes Glory a truly inspiring movie that demands to be seen and totally respected. 10/10

Freddie Fields Productions, TriStar Pictures by Edward Zwick, Kevin Jarre, Lincoln Kirstein, Peter Burchard, Robert Gould Shaw.
Stars: Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, Morgan Freeman.

Genres: Biography, Drama, History, War

Keywords: war racism battle union soldier confederate soldier american civil war 19th century early america african american history

01/18/1990

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